LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A recent string of bike thefts around one Louisville neighborhood is raising concerns about thieves using faces masks to blend in amid the pandemic.
Jeff Reibel told WAVE 3 his home security cameras caught a thief on video Saturday around 1:30 p.m. The entire incident took no more than three minutes. Reibel was not home at the time but his family was and they reported the theft to police.
“You just feel violated when someone comes into your space and takes your child’s bike,” he said.
In the video a man can be seen riding away with two bikes from the back of Reibel’s home near St. Matthews; one belonged to his son, another belonged to his son’s friend. The thief was wearing a red hoodie, black sunglasses, and a green cloth face mask.
“I don’t think, for a second, that without COVID and the mask mandates and all of that he would have felt so comfortable just walking down the sidewalk, walking up at 1:30 in the day,” he said.
Since July, Kentucky has been under a face mask mandate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Reibel believes it emboldened this thief and gave him extra cover to pedal away.
Brian Elstner, who lives nearby, says he was also a victim along with other families in the neighborhood.
“He looks way out of place, he looks like he’s in costume but now that with masks [sic] we’re so desensitized to it we almost don’t even notice,” he said.
In a security camera video captured from his garage last Wednesday, a masked thief in the same outfit is seen walking in and rolling out with a stolen bike moments later.
“And it’s not about the bike itself, it’s just that somebody has the audacity to come into somebody’s home when their kids are here and make them feel less safe,” he said.
Elstner explained that he even saw the thief in Seneca Park on Sunday and tried to chase him down, but he got away when police arrived. Now, Elstner has a lock on his remaining bikes but it only goes so far to make him feel safer.
St. Matthews Police has a good description of the suspect and they’re chasing down leads. Police Chief Col. Barry Wilkerson said his advice has not changed during the pandemic: If you see something suspicious, call the police.